Episode 017: “We started this over 25 years ago when nobody knew what it was. It was like magic powder.” Dr. Kyla Wood has spent her whole life in the flocculant and erosion control world. Her father started Applied Polymer Systems, Inc. and she literally grew up in the business. She even attended her first IECA conference when she was 12 or 13. Building on the foundation of learning, she went on to get her Masters from Northern Michigan and her PhD from Clemson University. 

“So basically, what a polymer flocculant is, is it’s a very long chain molecule. It’s a water soluble polymer that’s able to bind to particulates in the water, like sediment and metals, forming them into bigger, larger particles that can then settle out of the water column or be captured. So basically, flocculation is just the process of making little particles into big particles so we can get them out of water,” Kyla breaks down Flocculant 101 for us.There are all kinds of flocculants used for different purposes, but the ones used in stormwater sediment control must be safe to be released into the environment without causing damage. APS uses anionic (negatively charged) polyacrylamide (PAM) formulas that do just that. The negatively charged ions will be repelled by the negative charge of fish gills so that they do not clog them and cause adverse effects in natural waterways. It is important to test samples of the water and/or the soil from a location to ensure you use the correct flocculant. Even if it doesn’t hurt the environment, the wrong mixture won’t be effective. Flocculant is also not meant to replace physical BMPs, they work well together to produce better water quality. Kyla says “Our products are not supposed to replace your traditional BMPs.We want to be using our materials in conjunction with all the other good BMPs that we have for sediment and erosion control. We’re an enhancement.” 

In addition to the more well known uses for flocculants like water treatment and erosion control, there are lesser known uses for which flocculants are extremely effective. Flocculant can be used for dust control, demucking, large scale dredging, removing water from sediment, and pond and lake management. To learn more about these uses, visit APS’s website: siltstop.com

Quotes:

  • “It does look like magic when you take 500 NTU cup of water and turn it into near drinking water in 20 seconds. So it is somewhat magical.” (9:15 | Kyla)
  • “ So basically, flocculation is just the process of making little particles into big particles so we can get them out of water.” (5:47 | Kyla) 
  • “the other main [point] would be treating our [physical] sediment control BMPs, if you use the, the granular silt stop with those, you basically turn those sediment control devices into water clarification devices.” (14:39 | Kyla)
  • “ I think what sets us apart is that from planning, to implementation to maintenance to completion,  we don’t charge for anything but products, [but] we’re there every step of the way.” (23:12 | Kyla)

The views expressed are that of the individual and do not represent the opinions of any companies past, present or future.

Connect with Dr. Kyla Wood, PhD:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/kyla-iwinski-wood-phd-958890228/

https://www.siltstop.com/

Connect with Ty Garmon, LEED AP

Connect with Ty on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tygarmon/

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